Dating back to statehood, S.D. officials want the world to see how the Legislature works

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Code Commission wants to meet with folks from the State Library in the coming months to talk about getting even more of the Legislature’s history onto the internet.

Wenzel Cummings, the new code counsel, said library officials want to see what the Legislature wants next.

Senator Art Rusch, a Vermillion Republican who’s a commission member, suggested inviting them to the commission’s next meeting in February. Rusch spent parts of his career as lawyer serving as a circuit judge and a county prosecutor,

The commission decided back in 2016 that legislative records should be added to the library’s plan to electronically copy other state records.

So far, that’s meant digitally archiving every law the Legislature has passed every session, starting with 1890.

U.S. President Harrison granted statehood to South Dakota November 2, 1889.

The Code Commission serves as an arm of the Legislature, with responsibilities such as compiling the laws passed each session and arranging for their publication in state government’s official legal code.

Legislative Research Council deputy director Sue Cichos said Wednesday the Legislature’s website would be revised in 2020, so there could be digital access to more collections of documents through the State Library’s work.

Cichos presented the Code Commission with background on the project during a meeting Tuesday.

She said the LRC, as the Legislature’s non-partisan staff, began collapsing its paper library collections in 2015. At the time, the Legislature’s Executive Board was interested in finding someone to handle its records-digitization work. That led to discovering the State Library had a digitization plan for other state records.

“What they’re doing is what we were going to do on our own,” Cichos said. She added, “It saved a lot of state resources doing it that way.”

The digitization involves taking apart a book’s binding and electronically duplicating each page of paper.

The bound books are available mostly in collections housed at the state Capitol, the State Library, law offices, county courthouses and possibly some public and private libraries.

Putting the Legislature’s records on-line makes them available to all of the public every day of the year.

Cichos said everything done so far can be found at http://sdsdl-montage.auto-graphics.com/.

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